Angkor Wat

Top 10 Interesting Facts About Angkor Wat: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.

They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

Angkor, in Cambodia’s northern province of Siem Reap, is one of the most important archaeological sites of Southeast Asia. It extends over approximately 400 square kilometres and consists of scores of temples, hydraulic structures (basins, dykes, reservoirs, canals) as well as communication routes.

Angkor Wat

For several centuries Angkor, was the centre of the Khmer Kingdom. With impressive monuments, several different ancient urban plans and large water reservoirs, the site is a unique concentration of features testifying to an exceptional civilization.

Temples such as Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm, exemplars of Khmer architecture, are closely linked to their geographical context as well as being imbued with symbolic significance.

The architecture and layout of the successive capitals bear witness to a high level of social order and ranking within the Khmer Empire. Angkor is therefore a major site exemplifying cultural, religious and symbolic values, as well as containing high architectural, archaeological and artistic significance.

The park is inhabited, and many villages, some of whom the ancestors are dating back to the Angkor period are scattered throughout the park. The population practices agriculture and more specifically rice cultivation.

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The Angkor complex encompasses all major architectural buildings and hydrological engineering systems from the Khmer period and most of these “barays” and canals still exist today. All the individual aspects illustrate the intactness of the site very much reflecting the splendor of the cities that once were. The site integrity however, is put under dual pressures:

Endogenous: exerted by more than 100,000 inhabitants distributed over 112 historic settlements scattered over the site, who constantly try to expand their dwelling areas;

Exogenous: related to the proximity of the town of Siem Reap, the seat of the province and a tourism hub.

Have you heard of religions sharing shrines? Never? Well, it happened once in Cambodia. Angkor Wat was first a Hindu religion temple and then later it was turned into a Buddhist temple.

It is located in Cambodia and was first built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura, the capital of the Khmer Empire.

It is the world’s largest religious monument and one of the most visited religious sites in the world. Below are a few interesting facts that you need to know about Angkor Wat.


1. Angkor Wat was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The site suffered from decades of unregulated tourism and looting; many ancient statues have been decapitated and their heads sold to private collectors. An international collaborative effort has helped to slowly restore sites and prevent further collapse of unstable structures.


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2. Most of the money to restore Angkor Wat comes from foreign aid. Only an estimated 28% of ticket sales goes back into the temples.


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3. A three-day pass to explore the Angkor temples costs US $40. A single-day pass is available for US $20, or a week-long pass can be purchased for US $60.


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4. The Angkor temple Ta Prohm—famous for the large vines that strangle the ruins—was used as the set for the hit movie Tomb Raider. Paramount was charged US $10,000 per day for seven days to film there. Unfortunately, some of the iconic trees growing through the ruins at Ta Prohm have had to be removed to preserve the temple from further collapse.


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5. Angkor Wat translates to “City of Temples” or simply “City Temple.” New temples and ruins are being discovered nearly every year.


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6. Angkor Wat is the primary reason that more than 50% of international tourists visit Cambodia each year. Cambodians are proud of their ancient monument, so proud that they put it on the Cambodian flag in 1850. The only other country flag in the world that features a national monument is the current flag of Afghanistan. Images from Angkor Wat also appear on many denominations of the riel (Cambodia’s currency).


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7. The decorations on the walls of the temple have a uniquely Hindu story telling characteristics. They have fables and myths pictures that tell of the temple’s origin in Hindu religion.


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8. The site receives more than 2 million visitors annually for a reason – It ebbs an aura of divinity that can only be found in Incan and Mayan holy shrines.


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9. Unlike his predecessors who belonged to lineage of kings who practiced ‘Shaivism’ and thus their supreme God was Lord Shiva; Suryavarman II broke ranks with them and built this temple that is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.


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10. Many visitors do not realize that many surfaces of the Angkor temples were once painted. Today, only small traces of the paint remains on just a few temples.


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